One of my favourite hikes in Switzerland is the one between Harder Kulm to Augstmatthorn. Located in the area of Interlaken.
First I’ll talk about how to do this hike starting from Harder Kulm, then I’ll give you an attractive alternative that may make you change your plans.
The hike is around 14km total, and takes around 3-4hrs each way.
If you start at Harder Kulm, the way back from Augstmatthorn will be slightly quicker as it’s mostly downhill.
Harder Kulm sits at 1323m and Augstmatthorn is at 2136m.
How to Hike from Harder Kulm to Augstmatthorn
Funicular from Interlaken up to Harder Kulm
Firstly, if you are arriving by car, park in the parking lot next to Interlaken OST train station. It costs 7 CHF for a maximum of 12 hours which is a great price. From the parking, it is a 5 minute walk to the funicular station.
If you are arriving by public transport, get to the Interlaken OST station.
The Harder Kulm funicular to the top cost 15 CHF for a one-way ticket (30 CHF return), using the visitor card*.
It costs 17 CHF without the card and 34 CHF return.
*TIP! You get given a visitors card when you stay in tourist accommodation (hotels, AirBnb’s, etc).
With this card you are entitled to discounts on various cable cars, public transport, etc. You can see a list of all the discounts here: Interlaken Guest Card.
Good to know: Dogs are allowed on the funicular, free of charge.
The ride to the top is very steep (755m). If you sit at the bottom, you’ll have the best views of the city below.
One thing I think is cool is that you can buy a one way ticket, then if you later decide you’d like to go back down in the funicular, you can buy another one at the top for the exact same price.
There’s no extra charge for buying them separately 🙂
Hiking from Harder Kulm to Augstmatthorn
The first hour towards from Harder Kulm to Augustmatthorn is through the woods, with a gradual and practically constant incline.
Once you break through the trees, you will be greeted by 360 views of the valleys below.
To your right you will see Interlaken & Lake Brienz, and to your left you can see a few villages.
Continue walking in a straight line until you reach Augstmatthorn!
Before you arrive, you will pass by a few incredible photo spots. We decided to sit here and eat out picnic and it was incredible.
Unfortunately, during the month of April when we were there, there was still too much snow on the ground.
This meant we couldn’t make it to the exact point we wanted to, but the hike was well worth the views nonetheless.
TIP! Almost all of the way there is uphill (800m incline), which means you’ll have it easier on the way back.
A better alternative to the Harder Kulm to Augstmatthorn hike
After reading a few blogs, I found that there is another way to do this hike.
Adding my own experience to the equation, I have come up with a new plan which I will 100% be executing myself upon my return to Interlaken.
This may be of interest to you too…
I recommend splitting Augstmatthorn and Harder Kulm into 2 different trips. You could even do them both on the same day, depending on what time you set off.
This is why…
So, there is a shorter way to reach Augstmatthorn, which, is definitely the best part of this hike.
If you want to save yourself a few hours, consider this option. If you fancy the longer, 7-8 hour hike, then Harder Kulm to Augstmatthorn is for you 🙂
So, here is the alternative:
Park at restaurant Lombalchap. If I’m not mistaken, you need coins for this parking machine and it costs roughly 8-12 CHF for 12 hours.
The trail from the car park to Augstmatthorn is clearly marked.
It gets steeper the higher you get, but the views are definitely worth the effort.
It takes around 2 hours to get to the top, where you will have a fantastic view over Lake Brienz below.
*By doing it this way, you will miss the 1 hour journey through the trees from Harder Kulm, where you can’t see any views.
You will also miss another hour or so of walking across the top with incredible views over lake brienz, however you will also be able to see them from Augstmatthorn.*
Conclusion = you’re not really missing anything if you decide to do it this way. For me, it’s definitely worth splitting them into 2 trips.
After spending some time taking in your surroundings and maybe re-fueling with a picnic, make your way back to your car. The journey down takes 1 hour.
Visiting Harder Kulm
Once you’ve made it back to your car, you could drive around the mountain and head to Interlaken OST, park your car and take the funicular up to Harder Kulm for 15 CHF.
This is a really beautiful sunset spot so it could be done in the same day. From Harder Kulm you have clear views over interlaken and lake Thunersee.
If you fancy doing a bit more exercise, you can make your way back down on foot.
It takes around 1 hour and is pretty steep (I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to hike up it lol!)
If you don’t have time to do it all in one day, then make your way to Harder Kulm on another day.
There is a restaurant at the top where you can grab a bite to eat or something to drink.
There is also a viewpoint to check out.
I’d say you could spend 1-1.5 hours up here maximum so maybe a hike down would make it more worth your while.
Harder Kulm to Augstmatthorn hike & back
Duration: 7-8 hours total round trip
Difficulty: Medium. It’s easy to walk, but it’s steep at times so you need to be relatively fit.
Funicular from Interlaken to Harder Kulm: 15 CHF (30 CHF return) with visitor card. (17/34 CHF respectively without)
P.S. Dogs are allowed on the funicular, free of charge.
Preferable option in my opinion: Park at restaurant Lombalchap, climb 2 hours to the top, enjoy the views, and hike back down for 1 hour. Visit Harder Kulm separately 🙂
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